Help shine a light on mental wellness via trail running


By Henry Howard


Ten weeks from today I’ll be running the Hennepin Hundred, my second 100-miler and this year’s qualifier for Western States. Hennepin will be vastly different from my first 100, Rio Del Lago, which had 18,000 feet of climb in the beautiful mountains near Folsom, Calif.


A few weeks after finishing Rio Del Lago, I received a call from my dad’s doctor who told me she was concerned about changes in his cognitive ability. That led to a quick succession of a trip to see him, a neurologist’s diagnosis that confirmed Alzheimer’s and dementia, research of and visits to assisted-living facilities and moving him into one, all in the span of less than two months.


Since then, his struggles have continued. So have the moves, as he is now living in his fourth place in 19 months in two different states (after living in just two places, separated by 3.5 miles, for more than a half century). His first move occurred just before the pandemic altered the way of life in the United States.


I’ve learned quickly how to be a relentless advocate on his behalf. It’s been years since we’ve been close, unlike the close bond that Travis and Mark Macy have as the latter battles the demons of Alzheimer’s.


Throughout this journey, I’ve relied on my running as a release or distraction. I’ve found joy in the training. I’ve worked (mostly) through a stubborn foot injury. I’ve been inspired by how my clients have persevered through their personal challenges to achieve their goals.


I’m thankful for the running community members who are part of my journey. And especially Bigger Than The Trail (BTTT), a nonprofit dedicated to providing mental-health resources via trail running for those who need assistance. I’ve been a proud ambassador for several years for Team BTTT.


And now I’m asking you to support BTTT as part of my journey to the Hennepin Hundred finish line. (Please add your kind contribution on my donate page.) Last year, my supporters contributed nearly $1,000 on my behalf to BTTT. I’d be honored if you would help me surpass that goal. As an added incentive, BTTT founder Tommy Bryne has kindly offered up some gear that we will give away to a donor who will be picked at random after I complete Hennepin.


These donations help BTTT provide counseling to those who cannot afford it. As of early June, BTTT has provided 148 months of counseling.


Let’s keep shining the light on mental wellness.